The Golden Ring of Russia Air Balloon festival
There is a legend that in 1731, sixty years before the Montgolfier brothers, a Russian inventor living in Ryazan, scrivener Kryakutnoy ascended in the sky in a hot air balloon.
“In Ryazan, scrivener Kryakutnoy from Nerekhta made a furvin [an otherwise unknown word ostensibly signifying the balloon] like a big ball, blew it up with smoke unclean and smelly, made a loop, sat into it; and the devil raised him above the birch tree and the hit him of the bell tower; but he managed to hang on to a bell rope and so he survived.”
Though modern scientists consider it to be a fiction and claim the Montgolfier brothers to be the only real inventors with their balloon demonstrated in 1783.
The aerostatics festival which is held in Kolomna, Moscow region, bears the name of these inventors: MON-golfier. At the same time, Kolomna is a place historically connected to the activity of the famous soviet artist Yury Vasiliev-MON, sometimes called the soviet precursor of the Pop Art. The combination of these significant names gave the impulse for creating this festival that is held near the Sergievsky village.
Air balloons are rather popular all over the world and the festivals usually attract thousands of visitors. The first photos were taken at dawn not far from Kolomna from the basket of the hot air balloon called Comandante.
After visiting the MON-golfier festival we went to Pereslavl-Zalessky to visit another event called The Golden Ring of Russia. It is an incredibly beautiful scene with a great number of balloons flying over Lake Pleshcheyevo! For several days we were taking part in flights and taking photos from the ground and in the air, both using drones and from the baskets of balloons.
Comparing to other flying aircraft, air balloons fly almost silently and only the sound of the burner can be heard at times. The balloon’s cover resembles a living being, constantly flinching and stirring. It is both easy and difficult to manage the balloon: it flies with the wind, but only an experienced pilot can catch the needed airflow and altitude.
Hot air balloons can reach a rather high altitude (the very first flight of the Montgolfier brothers was at the altitude of 1.5 kilometres!) and cover a significant distance. Fyodor Konyukhov together with Ivan Menyailo has recently set a new world record for the longest hot air balloon flight which lasted for 55 hours and 15 minutes. The balloons with the hybrid construction (having a separate cell for a lighter than air gas like helium) can cover even greater distances. In 2002 an American adventurer Steve Fossett became the first person to make a nonstop fly around the world in an air balloon.
We would like to thank the Comandante air balloon crew and personally Igor Naimilov (the pilot) for his professional excellence and skills and all the people engaged in the organisation of MON-golfier festival and The Golden Ring of Russia festival, especially Andrey Tarsukov, without whom this expedition would never happen.
Video, photos and text by Sergey Shandin, Dmitry Moiseenko, Stas Sedov and Konstantin Redko
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